Trees Grow and Fall
November 15 - December 6
Artist Reception Saturday, November 15 5-8PM
Trees are very generous. They give shade, clean air, and beauty to any landscape. When harvested, we use their wood to build homes, make furniture, pencils, paper, and other useful items, and, in return, trees ask for nothing. It seems to me that society takes this generosity for granted. Are we acting responsibly with this precious natural resource?
Trees Grow and Fall is a documentary multimedia project that shows the way urbanization has marginalized trees and questions the social impact of deforestation. My interest in this topic began after looking closely at a group of photographs I’d taken in Brooklyn. These photos jumped out at me, beckoning to be heard. They depicted trees being pushed back by newly built structures; some were fenced out like prisoners; others were replaced by electric poles made with their own corpses.
In the forest, trees rise majestically as the world’s sentinels of life, goodness, and clean air. In the city, packed with cars, people, and buses, trees become hindrances to progress, nuisances to be eliminated. Does it have to be this way? Can’t trees and people co-exist?
This documentary raises many important social questions, not the least of which, what effects will deforestation have upon society, as well as on each of us?
Trees Grow and Fall”, a visually stunning and enchanting multi-media exhibit by the documentary photographer Nassar K, is now at 555 Gallery in South Boston through December 6, 2014. A celebration of both the beauty and rich resource that trees provide, the artist paid careful attention to the use of his subject matter here. Prints were created through a heat transfer process onto aluminum, printing onto recycled craft paper and the creation of postcard-sized collectors box sets.
The core of Nassar’s message is mindfulness, the very thing that gave rise to his project in the first place. Reviewing pictures he’d once taken around Brooklyn, the marginalization of trees within the urban landscape jumped out at him, and he began to look for other examples in a dedicated way. Sadly, it didn’t take much sleuthing to find trees in a range of locales “being pushed back by newly built structures; some were fenced out like prisoners, others were replaced by (utility) poles made with their own corpses.”
Perhaps the ascribing of some human characteristics to the trees can be attributed to Nasser’s theatrical background, but thankfully he’s no activist on a strident rant. Rather, he uses his exquisite photographs to advocate for thoughtful utilization of this precious resource. It may be art with a message, but first and foremost it is art. I was especially taken with his aluminum-mounted images. Famous for conferring luminosity, Nasser’s aluminum prints also had a 3-D quality that was mesmerizing. Although shot digitally on a DSLR (a traditional 35mm format), the crisp definition had me all but convinced they must’ve been taken with at least a medium format camera.
Whether presented on radiant aluminum, contrasty brown craft paper, or as ecological, miniature portfolio collections, all images are printed in B&W, providing both cohesion and variety. By printing in monochrome, Nasser heightened dramatic effect through the emphasis on compositional lines and lush textures. Tension created through the juxtaposition of trees with buildings and other surroundings is further accentuated by the rich tonal separation in the prints. To peak our awareness, Nasser has included not only urban trees but those in forests and fields, those standing majestically and those felled, often put side by side in poignant contrast.
As an overall experience, “Trees Grow and Fall” has lovely integration and depth. In addition to Nassar’s variety of print types, 555 Gallery owner Susan Nalband, a photographer in her own right, has made the rare contribution of a captivating three-dimensional slide show featuring one of her tree studies on one wall in the gallery. The entry wall has been invitingly collaged with phrases and mixed media in tribute to arboreal splendor. Miniature fir trees dot the gallery. It’s also worth mentioning that many of Nasser’s prints are very affordable, just in case you’re looking for some truly special gifts. ”Trees Grow and Fall” is an exhibit that keeps on giving, just like trees themselves.